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Football risks becoming like rugby - Wenger

posted 2 Sep 2010, 07:02 by Mpelembe Admin

Arsenal manager warns officials against not policing physical play properly as his new signing Sebastien Squillaci prepares for life in North London.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM (AUGUST 27, 2010)  ITN - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes soccer risks becoming like "rugby" if match officials fail to properly police the physicality of the game.

The Gunners travel to Blackburn Rovers in the English Premier League on Saturday (August 28) and Wenger used his pre-game media conference to voice his ongoing concerns at what he perceives as an over-zealous approach by some teams.

In February this year, Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross was involved in a strong challenge which resulted in Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey badly breaking his leg.

Wenger has clearly not forgotten that incident as he has viewed the early matches of the 2010-11 season, which included Tottenham's 2-1 win at Stoke last Saturday (August 21).

"I've seen some pictures last Sunday, you can't say any more it is football, it is rugby on the goalkeepers and the referees cannot go on and accept that anymore," Wenger told reporters on Thursday (August 26).

"When you see how Shawcross kicked Gomes (Tottenham goalkeeper), how Huth (Stoke defender) pushed Gomes in the goal, you cannot say that is football any more. If the referees allow that you cannot accept that because that has nothing to do with the game.

"Apart from that, when a team play long ball and head the ball and become physical I accept that completely and I respect that - but it has to be in respect of the rules, that is all."

Meanwhile new signing Sebastien Squillaci has spoken of his pride at joining Arsenal on a three year deal.

The French defender comes from Sevilla and at aged 30, brings plenty of experience to North London.

"I am very proud and happy to be at this big club. For me it is one of the best European clubs with a great history so I am very happy," Squillaci told Arsenal TV Online.

"My first impressions are very positive. I have visited the training ground which is beautiful and the pitches are great. It is all good and I look forward to training with my new team-mates and I look forward to playing for Arsenal."

Squillaci has spent most of his career in Europe but believes he is more than ready for the rigours of the English game.

"I have played in France, I have played in Spain for two years, I have played internationals and in the Champions League, I am 30 and I have a bit of experience. Now I am going to discover a new league," he said.

"I have played against English teams like Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool so I know what to expect. I know it will take some time to adapt to new team-mates and the new game but I hope that it will happen quickly."

Playing for fellow-Frenchman Wenger, Squillaci is fully aware of his coach's reputation in the game.

"I don't know him (Wenger) very well personally even though I have met him many times during matches with the French national team," Squillaci said.

"Arsène Wenger has a great reputation in the football world and in the world generally. He has been very important for French football as well. He has done very well with Arsenal and I have a great respect for him. I am very happy to work for such a coach."

Wenger said Squillaci all-round skills were a perfect fit for Arsenal.

"He is good defender, a real defender and is good in the one against one, good in the air, good header of the ball and can score goals on set-pieces as well. And I believe personally he will be suited to the English game."